Chevrolet Sells 1,210 Volts In February, Off 26% From 2013

6 months ago by Jay Cole 30

GM Decides A Video About Avoiding The Perils Of The Desert Was A Good Time To Solve Sales Woes In February

GM Launches “The New Freedom” Volt Campaign About The Perils Of The Desert – In February

After posting a fairly disappointing 918 Volt sales in January – the first time sales were under 4 digits in 2 years (603 - Jan 2012), the extended range Chevy bounced back a little in February notching 1,210 deliveries.

Winter Is Never Kind To Plug-In Sales In The US

Winter Is Never Kind To Plug-In Sales In The US

Year-over-year, this February’s result was up against some fairly stiff competition as 1,626 were sold this month a year ago, meaning sales were off 25.6%.  For the year to date, 2,128 Volts have been sold as compared to 2,766 – off 23.1%

Last year 23,094 Volts in total were sold, which was a little less than the 23,461 in 2012 – a statistic GM can’t be eager to repeat in 2014.

Fortunately, next month should be an ‘easy beat’ for GM to get things back on track, as just 1,478 Volts were sold.

Why the low numbers so far in 2014 – and really for the end of 2013?

There just isn’t enough casr to even get the Volt a fighting chance as the General opted to produce more petrol cars and higher margin Cadillac ELRs out of the Volt’s Hamtramck facility while keeping the plug-in Chevrolet’s inventory restrained to less than half of what it was over the summer.

Sidnote of interest:  GM sold 58 Cadillac ELRs in February

GM Lets Consumers Know That Most Owners Only Visit The Gas Station Once Every 900 Miles Or So

GM Lets Consumers Know That Most Owners Only Visit The Gas Station Once Every 900 Miles Or So

However none of those issues stopped the car from continuing to rack up awards, as the Volt added two more to its trophy case this month:

Also, Chevrolet initiated a new ad focus for the Volt in February:

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31 responses to "Chevrolet Sells 1,210 Volts In February, Off 26% From 2013"

  1. Assaf says:

    Yeah, as I said several times, with ads like this it’s better to go without ads at all ;(

    Unless Mary Barra changes the EV-skeptic attitude that still seems to dominate the thinking, at least in GM’s marketing dept., GM might find itself way behind not just Nissan, but also Ford and the German makers, before the year is over.

    1. Mark H says:

      Assaf,
      You are placing waaay too much emphasis on marketing. Re-read Marketing Director John Dabels comments on ads value in the EV1 article. I am betting the Volt finishes 2nd this year, though expect larger pieces of the pie going to Ford and the German manufacturers.
      Another interesting aspect of the Volt is younger drivers find it much more sporty and attractive than it competitors and some of them are going after the used market. Actually it is a very smart move with a guaranteed $7,500 depreciation due to the tax credit system.

    2. Nate says:

      Hi Assaf. I actually didn’t mind the add (I’ve seen them do worse). My only gripe is why do I not even see or hear adds for the Volt until I see some link in an article here? By the time I get to work in the morning I’ve either heard a Leaf add on the sports radio station or if listening to OPB I’ve heard that morning edition was brought to me by support of listeners “and by the Nissan Leaf”. If I stop in the company break room on a Friday I’ll see the adds in the paper for nice discounts on the C-Max, Fusion Energi and a Leaf S w/ charge package. All those things are GREAT to hear and see. It would just be cool to see some Volt advertisements other than within a link within a story here.

    3. dickerin says:

      I like this ad.
      It appropriately associates range anxiety with those unrealistic, childish fears that linger in all of us.
      Like other readers have mentioned, no matter how good the piece is, it is no good if they don’t air it.
      This is the first time I have seen it.

  2. scottf200 says:

    Why do you guys continue to put bogus percentages in these monthly articles? You are using statistics to exaggerate the situation either good or bad. It is really poor journalism.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Scott, what percentages are you referring to? Every percentage given in this article is accurate, and is direct from GM media’s own sales press release…which can be found here.

      1. scottf200 says:

        Technically accurate but an example of completely misrepresenting information by using statistics. When the sales numbers are so small it exaggerates percentages. Do the same math on a larger selling vehcile. The “story” / title is much less ridiculous.

        Example using 2013 Feb numbers for the Cruze and Versa (just for large seller comparisons only not products). You can see the percentages are -2% vs -26% and +6% vs +118%. So dramatically different.

        Feb’13 Feb’14 %Chg Up/Down
        Volt 1,626 1,210 -26% -416
        LEAF 653 1,425 118% 772

        Cruze 17,947 17,531 -2% -416 (use above number to for Volt)
        Versa 13,100 13,872 6% 772 (use above number to for LEAF)

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Just to be clear, your story would say “Chevrolet Volt sales off 416 units in February” as opposed to “off 26%” – and that would be satisfactory?

          I think if the Cruze was also being reporting on, and that title also said “Chevrolet Cruze sales off 416 units in February” the confusion would be worse – due to no context of the numbers for those results. Cruze fans (if there is such a thing) would be upset in that scenario.

          But I am ok with that, so next month when GM reports like 1,800 sales as compared to the 1,478 sold in 2013, we’ll title it: “Chevrolet Volt Sales Increase By 322 In March” instead of “Chevrolet Sells 1,800 Volts In February, Up 22%

          Honestly, the only reason I entered the debate (we like to leave it an open field when possible) was because I felt your comment was a little hurtful/unduly harsh and we had to respond.

          1. scottf200 says:

            Thanks for the follow up. Sorry. My overall point was statistic (percentages) are misleading on such small numbers.
            I don’t think any rational person would see a 215 car sales difference being represented by 144% difference as making a sensible way to represent it to the mass audience. I don’t generally compare the Volt to LEAF but they are the comparison most often done for non-luxury plug-in cars. They are equally successful in my mind based on raw numbers.
            Volt 1,210 -26%
            LEAF 1,425 118%
            I’ll stop bugging you about it.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Its ok Scott, the criticism is what keeps everything on track and we welcome it. Maybe just take it a little easier on me next time, (; I really am a easy-going fellow that wants to see all the plug-ins succeed.

              1. kdawg says:

                That’s why I like charts… :)
                Pictures > 1000 words
                (reminds me.. i need to update mine)

        2. David says:

          That makes no sense. Percentages are useful to show how sales are changing in comparison to a base. Otherwise simply stating a numeric change is more misleading without context.

          Sorry is the numbers don’t tell the story you’d like to hear.

          Clearly Volt sales are dropping. 5 months of consistent year over year decline, despite a big price drop. The ELR’s truly insignificant 58 nationwide sales paint an even clearer picture about how the ‘EREV’ (hybrid) approach is not what the market it seeking.

          Mild hybrids like the Energi and PiP may see higher sales, but I’d count them as ICEs.

    2. Nate says:

      Yeah its something I’d expect from Fox News. The headline will be seen in the google search results. The reasons why Feb 2013 might be different than Feb 2014 won’t matter much because they won’t be read nearly as much.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I’m open to other suggestions, what would you have it say…other than “Chevrolet sells 1,210 Volts”

        But I do understand why people aren’t happy. No one wants to see their favorite EV not do well, or any EV in general. The fact is that the Volt has been lower year over year in 5 of the past 6 months. (something not mentioned in this article)

        Next month is an easy comp (relatively speaking) so the headline most likely will be “Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In March – Looks To Build On Success” or something of that nature.

        1. Nate says:

          As you expect it is easy for me to complain but not have better suggestions at the top of my head.

        2. Nate says:

          I’m less worried about it for the Volt as I am for the Leaf, because although the Leaf most likely will have a really good year, if we keep with the same patter its headlines will start to turn pretty lame too for it as well. Not every month, but for half the months. More competition may make some numbers worse, but as long as overall plug in sales increase, thing are good and that should be the real story.

          1. Jay Cole says:

            That’s true.

            I think the LEAF article on sales stresses that February is the last “easy” month for the LEAF (while the Volt can be more optimistic about upcoming March), and that the LEAF will be up against much harder US-production numbers from here on out if they want to continue to show improvements.

        3. Good thing Volt year-on-year sales percentages for Europe were not referenced. :\ Sad GM no longer has an EV plugged into the EU market.
          http://insideevs.com/plug-in-electric-vehicle-sales-in-europe-january-2014/

          Expect Volt sales will see an uptick in March as insentiove of green HOV stickers running low will move Volt buyers on the fense.
          http://energycenter.org/clean-vehicle-rebate-project/rebate-funding-status

          The Volt may need a price cut, or bit bigger battery (50+ miles) to keep sales up in summer and later months of the year?

  3. pjwood says:

    People don’t buy their “February” car, in February, or the March car in March, unless it’s a convertable. They also can look forward to a $+7,500 tax event long before Fall. These reasons hide bigger issues, such as the build rate Jay mentions.

    I always have “Who Killed Tthe Eelectric Car” playing in the back of my mind.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTHsTCBxDM8

    1. vdiv says:

      I often have it playing in front of my eyes too and unfortunately find that it is still quite relevant. Honda and Toyota seem to be watching it too thinking that the hydrogen bomb car can once again pull the wool over people’s eyes, and of course GM cannot be far behind.

  4. DaveMart says:

    My concern about this article is:
    ‘There just isn’t enough cars to even get the Volt a fighting chance as the General opted to produce more petrol cars and higher margin Cadillac ELRs out of the Volt’s Hamtramck facility while keeping the plug-in Chevrolet’s inventory restrained to less than half of what it was over the summer.’

    Do we know that sales were production constrained, and not due to lack of demand?
    If so, what is the evidence?

    My guess would have been that soft petrol prices might have led to reduced Volt demand, whilst the very competitive price of the Leaf has meant that folks looking to reduce petrol use have turned towards them at the margin.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      That is always the question Dave.

      As for what we can say for sure, the Volt fluctuated around 3,000-4,000 cars in inventory on average in the fall, while selling (on average) more than 2,100 cars/month. That’s only around 45 days inventory…that was tight. And inventories didn’t seem to be well spread out regionally – now or then.

      The industry average heading into February was 94 days, GM was close to 120.

      Also, there had been more than a few reports of really long wait times if customers want to order the car custom at the end of 2013.

      pic via IBT

  5. Ziv says:

    How do you take the car that has won more awards than just about any car in recent history, a car that has the JD Powers highest customer satisfaction of any car (until recently) and sell just 2,000 or so in the first two months of a year? Not building enough of them to get 2 or 3 at most dealers is one way, and not getting 10 or 12 at each of the Volt specialist dealers is another, plus not advertizing them works well in reducing that pesky sales problem.

    I love my Volt but it is pretty obvious GM does not.

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      GM keeps giving off mixed messages about their plug in cars with the Chevy Spark and this one to where I think people feel confused. I remember reading that Ford made a comment that they are going to undercut the Prius C with their plug in car. And their cars out number the volt three to one in my area.

      Another thing is Nissan as official said they are going to raise production to 3000 a month and to 4000 by the end of the year.

  6. GRA says:

    The Volt’s numbers seem entirely reasonable to me, because unlike the LEAF, it has real competition in its market segment. What’s missing from all the hand-wringing is that PHEV (however defined) sales are trending up, while affordable BEV sales are flat.

    Tesla is in a whole other price league compared to the LEAF; the Model S’ PEV competitors at the moment are the Panamera and the laughable ELR. The Volt, OTOH, has the Fords and even the PiP competing with it, the Accord not being a serious player. Volt sales have dropped simply because Energi, especially Fusion Energi sales have increased. I expect PiP sales to drop precipitously in California as soon as the green stickers run out. The Volt and other PHEVs may too, but unlike the PiP they provide some reason to buy other than just the stickers.

    Meanwhile, what nationwide competition does the LEAF have? Only the Focus, which isn’t advertised; the rest are compliance cars or even smaller niche BEVs like the Smart, all of which sell around 100 or so per month. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the i3 will cannibalize a lot of LEAF sales at that price point, and the Soul will also be compliance at least initially, for an unknown price. We’ll have to see how VW will price the e-Golf.

    1. Spec9 says:

      California is a pretty big market for EVs so competition from compliance cars could hurt them here . . . . but that said, they don’t really hurt them much. The compliance cars are available in such small numbers and lot of people are not comfortable buying such low volume cars that they just don’t sell very well. Honda just said they are done. Chrysler is not making many Fiat 500es. I don’t know what GM is doing with the Spark but I suspect it is very limited in volume.

      1. GRA says:

        Yes, in California (where I am) we’ve got a lot more choice than most of the country, but with the Fit and RAV4 both going away at the end of the year, and Fiat being completely uninterested in building any more 500es than they’re forced to, even here the affordable BEV options are at best staying pretty static. Until some company provides much better range, they’re all much of a muchness, and I think the market for 80 mile/$30k MSRP BEVs is pretty saturated here.

        I also think it’s time we (California) consider reducing or eliminating the state incentive – certainly there’s zero justification for allowing it or Fed. subisidies on cars costing as much as the Tesla, Panamera, ELR or (heaven help us), the 918.

        The price of the typical 80 mile BEV has dropped far more than $2,500 since 2010, so even if we keep the incentives they should be indexed upwards so the max applies to cars providing considerably more range (as opposed to being tied to battery size as they are now), but capped at say $40k out the door price less govt. fees (so the dealers and manufacturers can’t play games with MSRP), and reducing/indexing every year or two.

        1. Ocean Railroader says:

          I agree with your idea of capping the tax rebate to cars sold for under $40,000 in that it’s kind of wrong to give someone a rebate on a $50,000 to $100,000 car. It would also start forcing the other car markers to lower their prices or come out with mass marketed cars.

          Also I would add a minimum electric range to the car deals of say 20 useful miles for a plug in and 120 useful miles for a EV to motive car makers.

  7. Rock the Volt says:

    Hey, I just want to know when I can get my Spark EV in NY??

    1. vdiv says:

      Someone saw a Spark EV with MD plates charging in MD. So probably all you have to do is contact a dealership in CA or OR that sells them, pay them for the car and for shipping it over, and then try to figure out where you are going to service it.